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Tag: Parasite

Editorials

Top 10 Films at the UK Box Office in 2020 (So Far)

May 22, 2020
The 2020 Box Office [Sources: Cineworld Cinemas,The Guardian; imdb]

With UK cinemas still closed we may as well run down 2020’s highest box office grossers so far. Today I’ll look at how much the highest earners took at the UK Box office (using Box Office Mojo and Google Money Converter). These numbers are rounded to the nearest hundred thousand and are correct at the time of writing (20/05/20)) and what critics; audiences thought of them.

10. Birds of Prey: And the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn (£9,400,000)

Cathy Yan’s DC Universe offering sees Harley Quinn teaming up with a group of female heroines to fight against the evil Black Mask.

Audience Thoughts: 78% – Rotten Tomatoes / 6.2 – IMDb

Critics Thoughts: “While watching Birds of Prey, it becomes clear that comic book movies are still going to dominate the box office for many years to come. If any of those could be as much fun…then we would be over the moon.

Harley Quinn and the Birds of Prey
Harley Quinn and the Birds of Prey swoop into 10th place at the UK Box Office [Source: Empire]

9. Parasite (£12,000,000)

Bong Joon Ho’s Best Picture winner sees the poor Kim family scam their way into working for the rich Park family. But do the Kim’s deserve our sympathy and what secrets are the Park’s hiding?

Audience Thoughts: 90% – Rotten Tomatoes / 8.6 – IMDb

Critics Thoughts: “It’s dark, funny, clever, surprising, and I’m sure I could use almost every adjective in my lexicon.

Parasite
Best Picture Winner, Parasite smashes into 9th place [Source: Americamagazine.org]

8. The Gentlemen (£12,300,000)

Guy Ritchie’s latest gangster films focused on an American marijuana emperor trying to leave the business. But various factions conspire to extort him for all he’s worth.

Audience Thoughts: 84% – Rotten Tomatoes / 7.9 – IMDb

Critics Thoughts: “It is a coarse, convoluted, comical caper that exults in the joys of genre.”

The Gentlemen
The Gentlemen swan into 8th place [Source: Den of Geek]

7. Jumanji: The Next Level (£16,100,000)

The gang from Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle, along with new additions Danny Glover and Danny DeVito, return to Jumanji to face new challenges. 

Audience Thoughts: 87% – Rotten Tomatoes / 6.7 – IMDb

Critics Thoughts: “Jumanji’s next level is rather satisfying.

Jumanji
The Jumanji gang jump back into the UK Box Office [Source: Entertainment Weekly]

6. Dolittle (£16,700,000)

Robert Downey Jr. leads an all-star cast as the famous doctor who can talk to animals sets out to find a cure for an ailing young Queen Victoria.

Audience Thoughts: 76% – Rotten Tomatoes / 5.6 – IMDb

Critics Thoughts: “It really is horribly inert, and every time Downey opens his mouth to say something unintelligible, the film dies a bit more.

Robert Downey Jr as Dolittle
Despite a critical thrashing Dolittle soars into number 6 at the Box Office [Source: GamesRadar]

5. Bad Boys for Life (£17,000,000)

Mike Lowrey and Marcus Burnett must team up with a team of younger cops to take down the leaders of a violent drug cartel.

Audience Thoughts: 96% – Rotten Tomatoes / 6.7 – IMDb

Critics Thoughts: “Bad Boys for Life is … pure enjoyment and entertainment.

Bad Boys returns to the UK box office
The Bad Boys return in glorious fashion [Source: RogerEbert.com]

4. Sonic the Hedgehog (£19,100,000)

Sonic and his friend Tom race to San Francisco to find the rings to transport Sonic off-world before Dr. Robotnik catches them.

Audience Thoughts: 93% – Rotten Tomatoes / 6.6 – IMDb

Critics Thoughts: “The world contains many terrible video game movies. This isn’t one of them.

Sonic rushing into the box office top 10
Sega’s blue speedster rushes into the top 10 [Source: Hollywood Reporter]

3. Little Women (£19,400,000)

Greta Gerwig’s remake of the literary classic follows the March sisters as they experience career hardships, romance, tragedy, and triumph during and after the American Civil War.

Audience Thoughts: 92% – Rotten Tomatoes / 7.9 – IMDb

Critics Thoughts: “Though we can’t foretell whether time will be cruel or kind to Gerwig’s “Little Women,” it may just be the best film yet made by an American woman.”

Little Women stands tall at the box office
Greta Gerwig’s Little Women stands tall at number 3 [Source: Britannica]

2. Star Wars: Episode IX – The Rise of Skywalker (£20,100,000)

The Skywalker Saga concludes. Emperor Palpatine returns to threaten the galaxy. Rey and the remnants of the resistance must find a way to stop him. While contending with the rage of Kylo Ren.

Audience Thoughts: 86% – Rotten Tomatoes / 6.7 – IMDb

Critics Thoughts: “It doesn’t do anything new or even terribly distinctive, but maybe it didn’t have to. It just had to be good enough to stick the landing, and it does that.

Rise of Skywalker rises to number 2 at the uk box office
The Skywalker saga’s final swipe took the 2nd place in 2020 so far [Source: Deadline]

1. 1917 (£46,600,000)

Presented in a pseudo-continuous shot 1917 follows two soldiers tasked with physically delivering orders for a battalion to stand down before German forces kill them all.

Audience Thoughts: 88% – Rotten Tomatoes / 8.3 – IMDb

Critics Thoughts: “1917 will have you on the edge of your seat from the very first moment and will leave you breathless.

1917 is number 1 at the box office
1917 stands atop the box office [Source: Letterboxd]

This year’s top 10 collective taking may be comparatively low (over £188 million) but with a relatively diverse group of creative teams (including 2 solo female directors and a foreign-language film) and an interesting mix of tales (including three original properties not based on pre-existing work or part of larger franchises), 2020 is more interesting than 2019. Which was dominated by comic book adaptations, remakes, and sequels to popular franchises (mostly from Disney and their subsidiaries). Hopefully, the upcoming months will bare good tidings for UK cinemas.

Also Read: What Happens To Your Brain When Watching A Horror Film

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Editorials

Parasite and Foreign Language Films in the UK

February 26, 2020
Parasite Movie

Since Parasite became the first foreign-language film to win Best Picture (at the Oscars), many have asked if this marks the beginning of more prominence for international films in English-speaking territories?

Well, today we’re going to look at the performance of international films in the UK. Looking at the number of non-English language films that get released in the UK, their box office takings, the factors that affect this and how Parasite’s recent triumph could impact the industry in the future.

2018 Foreign Language Release Numbers

Recent BFI statistics show that 331 films released in 2018 were entirely in a foreign language. This marked a decrease from the 349 entirely foreign language releases in 2017. But international releases still accounted for 43% of UK releases overall. And the number of different languages represented in UK cinemas increased. From 38 languages other than English in 2017 to 44 in 2018.

The Box Office Numbers

Foreign-language releases in 2018 made £30 million at the box office. The joint highest taking (2016 taking the same amount) since 2010.

Many high grossing international films have a dedicated audience in the UK. E.g. The UK has a big Bollywood audience with the highest-grossing foreign-language film of 2018 was Padmaava. A Hindi film which, according to the BFI, grossed £2.2 million (across 137 cinemas). The UK also has a big Polish community (it is the most common non-native language in England and Wales). So films like Clergy made £1.3 million (shown at 237 cinemas), and Cold War made £1.1 million (shown in 79 cinemas).

However, many of the other best-performing films had a great amount of exposure from film festivals and awards ceremonies. Which helped gain more interest from broader English speaking audiences. For example, Shoplifters won the Palme d’Or and earned £0.7 million across 43 cinemas. Making it the second-highest-grossing foreign-language film not in Polish or Hindi. And A Fantastic Woman won Best Foreign-Language Film at the 2018 Oscars helping it to earn £0.4 million across 38 cinemas.

The Success of Parasite

Parasite received several accolades prior to its UK release. These included the Palme d’Or, the BAFTA for best screenplay and best foreign-language film and many more. But since its Oscar win Parasite has become the third highest-grossing non-English language film at the UK box office. Earning a total of £5.1 million. Only beaten out by Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (£9.4 million) and Passion of the Christ (£11.1 million). And it increased its cinema presence, from 137 screens to 428. Showing that the prestige of the award helped to further advertise the film to English speaking audiences. And convinced more theatres to show it.

This historic victory also coincides with a recent growing demand for international content. According to Curzon CEO Philip Knatchbull, the rise of non-English content on TV and streaming services like Netflix has helped to change attitudes towards foreign language products. Showing that there are audiences craving foreign language content and that there is a possibility for a new generation of English speakers to emerge who become accustomed to and more appreciative of world cinema.

What does this mean?

Parasite has proven that something has changed in the zeitgeist. Foreign language films usually struggle at the UK box office. Largely due to a perceived lack of interest from larger audiences. However, Parasite‘s Oscar win proves that foreign-language films are more accessible than ever. And are capable of captivating and performing well with English speaking cinema audiences when given the chance and the marketing.

Hopefully, Parasite‘s success coupled with the emergence of modern audiences more appreciative of foreign content, and the big awards ceremonies providing publicity for non-English language films means that bigger British audiences will soon be watching the wide variety of international films available at the cinema. And that more marketing; showcasing opportunities will be available for these films to reach larger audiences. Which is important.

More box office earnings mean more languages and cultures will be represented at the cinema. And exposure to foreign cinema helps us to discover great stories, new methods of storytelling and it allows us to learn more about and empathize with other cultures, traditions and ways of life. And that’s always a good thing.

Also Read: Parasite Director Once Described The Oscars As “Very Local” – Does He Have a Point?

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Editorials

Parasite Director Bong Joon-Ho Once Described The Oscars As “Very Local” Does He Have A Point?

February 17, 2020

Bong Joon-ho, the talented director behind Okja, Snowpiercer and more, recently described the Oscars as “very local” when asked if he thought it odd no South Korean film has ever been nominated for an Oscar before. The director’s meaning seems to be that the Oscars are very biased towards American films. As I’m sure everyone is aware Parasite won four Oscars last weekend, including Best Picture but even with this burst of internationality – are the Oscars “local” awards?

The Undisputed Champion of Film Awards

Bong Joon-ho holds the Oscars for best original screenplay, best international feature film, best directing, and best picture for "Parasite" at the Governors Ball after the Oscars,
Credit: Photo by Richard Shotwell/Invision/AP/Shutterstock (10552686aw) Bong Joon-ho holds the Oscars for best original screenplay, best international feature film, best directing, and best picture for “Parasite” at the Governors Ball after the Oscars.

I think most people in America and the UK see the Oscars as the film awards. Winning Best Picture at the Oscars is probably the closest we have to declaring what was the best film of that year. After all, there are many film awards that are specific to the host country, indeed, in South Korea they have the Blue Dragon and Grand Bell awards, both specifically for South Korean films. But I don’t think that’s how the Oscars present themselves. For a start films from all over the world can, and do, win awards, they are not limited to American or English-language films. There is an unspoken rule that every film – or at least every film that had a release in LA – is in contention. Last year’s Best Picture winner, Green Book, not only beat every American film but every Dutch, South Korean Mexican and every other country’s film as well.

Awards Around The World

The BAFTA (source: variety.com)

It does seem that a lot of countries have films awards that are specific to their country, and the Oscars (and the BAFTAs in the UK) are somewhat an exception in ostensibly being worldwide. But I’d argue that for many countries it’s not their national awards but their film festival that is the big deal. France’s, and perhaps the world’s, most famous film festival is the Cannes Film Festival, with it’s biggest award being the Palme d’Or. Just glancing over the winners of this award since 2000 – nine of the winners had some French involvement if we eliminate co-productions that goes down to two French films. Using the same criteria, The Golden Bear from the Berlin International Film Festival only has two films where Germany was involved in co-production. Without prior knowledge of the geography of Italy, I don’t think someone could work out any bias in the Venice Film Festival to its host country, since 2000 Iranian, South Korean and Venezuelan films have won the Golden Lion with only one Italian film winning that award in that time.

10 Billion Reasons Why

Hollywood Hills Sign
The Hollywood Sign (credit: Wikipedia)

So why do films from outside America fare so poorly at the Oscars? Well, most Oscar voters are US based so perhaps there is a bias there. But also the American film industry is huge – making over $10 billion in 2017 and it would make sense that the biggest and most successful country would dominate awards. Again, like no other country American films are watched around the world. In Britain and America to even consider watching a film, not in English, is considered a signifier of high-brow intellectual tastes, whereas to like American films in other countries is the norm. However, it can’t simply be that America makes more films if nothing else India actually produces more. Parasite is only the twelfth film that isn’t in English to be nominated for Best Picture – and the first to actually win – and I think it is impossible to argue that such a list represents the best films ever made.

Another very interesting point in all of this is that for all of Parasite’s success at the Oscars it received no acting nominations. The same was true of Roma last year, a film not in English that did well at the Oscars, and Slumdog Millionaire which won eight – including Best Picture – but featured a cast of non-white actors who when compared to typical Oscar nominees weren’t at all famous. To me it seems bizarre that a film that was considered the best of the year would not contain a single-acting performance worthy of an Oscar nomination. Is this bias towards American actors (and admittedly British actors who seem to be at no disadvantage) or is it simply that Kang-ho song and Sun-kyun Lee do not have the name recognition as Brad Pitt and Renee Zellweger? As a case in point, I could rattle off the stars of Once Upon A Time In Hollywood or The Irishman but had to look on IMDb to find the names of Parasite’s stars.

I think it’s clear that the Oscars is not really a competition without bias but despite this a foreign film can still win big. And, of course, even being nominated for an Oscar will raise the profile of a film that lacks the marketing power of something like Joker. If pushed I feel that most people would admit the bias towards America and would see that as perfectly natural.

Also Read: For Your Consideration: Sci-Fi, Comedy & Oscar Snubs

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Reviews

Review: Parasite

December 28, 2019

When a parasite connects to its host, it’s trying to survive. As an organism it has adapted to this way of life, to rely on its host to endure, to feed, and to live. The host is noticeably weakened by the parasite, its resources now feed two beings and as such parasites are merciless. 

In Bong Joon-ho’s Palme d’Or winning Parasitethose organisms are the Kim family. A group who, struck by misfortune and lack of wealth, try to make a living from what they can in their semi-basement apartment. They fold the pizza boxes for a local restaurant, use the WIFI of the person who lives above them, they risk their own health to take advantage of local fumigation via their open windows, and they have to watch each night as drunk men piss outside those same windows. So when an opportunity to tutor the daughter of the wealthy Park family befalls the son of the family, Ki-Woo (played with hope and grit by Choi Woo-shik) a plan emerges. 

Ki-Woo likes plans, to know the next step, to already have his counteraction prepared. As it becomes clear the youngest Park child needs an art tutor, he suddenly ‘remembers’ someone he’s heard of and thus, his sister, Ki-jeong (a deftly cool and calm Park So-dam), takes up the mantle of Jessica – an artistic genius and expert in art therapy who studied in the USA. Soon, there appear to be roles for the entire family and they set about making it happen. Utilising titbits of information they hear from the family they find ways to oust the driver and the housekeeper, leaving room for Ki-teak (Song Kang-ho) and Chung-sook (Chang Hyae-jin) to take over. Their infiltration of the Park family is ruthless and smooth.

Parasite Film
“Parasite” screenshot (credit: Universal Pictures)

What then of their host, the Park family? The mother, Yeon-gyo (played sweetly by Cho Yeo-jeong) whose ignorance to the world outside is unwittingly antagonistic and her maternal anxiety only seems to stretch to her youngest son. The father, Dong-ik, the CEO of an IT company, who brings home the money and wins over his son with gifts. They are two people who, as the film twists and writhes into unexpected places, become more grotesque as their out-of-touch air wrestles with their lack of empathy for others. As for their children, Da-song, is a seemingly wild, uncontrollable child while Da-hye is a shy, self-conscious teen, aware of the lack of attention she gets from her parents and thus finds romantic entanglements with all her tutors. 

The Parks live in an enviable mansion mostly protected from prying eyes by tall trees in their garden. The suave house, filled with motion sensors, cool chrome finishes, and Voss Water, is the stage on which this symbiotic relationship plays out. The Kim’s infiltrate and live off the Parks and the Parks, ignorant to the toils of the working classes, are none the wiser. 

To talk too much more about the film’s plot would rob the viewer of experiencing its wild ride (and it is wild). Instead, what is more, beneficial is thinking about Parasite has to say, with class strategically centred in this astute and pointed story of a wide and cavernous divide. But, make no mistake, the evaluation of Parasite as class warfare is not this critic engaging with the film’s subtilties, far from it. The film wears its anti-capitalist message on its sleeve, open and in plain sight with no chance you could miss it. That is, in fact, one of its strongest qualities: its unabashed commitment to its thesis. The world of the film is the same as the world we live in, the rich find it hard to see the poverty for the trees that they surround their massive houses with. Global warming leads to hotter summers for those beach getaways and rising house prices mean a stronger investment in property and likely more needy tenants to rent to.

It is not the only film to grapple with this divide that simply cannot be ignored. In a piece for Vulture, critic Alison Willmore wrote, “[C]lass rage on the big screen provides a reflection of the particular despair and frustration underscoring our real-world present, where the divide between security and anxiety, both here and abroad, is ever more cavernous.” Willmore placed Parasite alongside 2019’s slew of films that examined that class gap including Ready or NotHustlersKnives Out, and more. Does this mean things are changing?

Parasite
“Parasite” screenshot (credit: Universal Pictures)

Parasites notably weaken their host, but when it comes to class nothing seems to be budging, nobody appears any frailer. The rich keep getting richer, the money builds up as billionaires see tax decreases and off-shore accounts continue to exist. But the working classes see none of that dough, it isn’t put back into the economy unless you count the poor wages paid for zero-hour contracts or casual work. And if you don’t like it? There’s a line of hundreds just like you, in need of work, lining up around the block to survive. If there were a job opening ‘500 university graduates would go for it’, Ki-Taek says, highlighting the grim prospects that a lot of young people know all too well. 

Bong Joon-ho’s social commentary flick is made more effective through the stylish and gripping way the story unfolds. It’s dark, funny, clever, surprising, and I’m sure I could use almost every adjective in my lexicon. I could go on for hours about the way class and politics come into play but I won’t. All I’ll say is this: parasites don’t intend to harm their host, that is a by-product of the way in which they exist. They want, as all creatures do, to live. 

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars (5 / 5)

Parasite is being distributed by Curzon in the UK and will be in cinemas 7th February 2020.

Also Read: The Anatomy of a Christopher Nolan Film

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